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[floh-jis-ton, -tuh n] /floʊˈdʒɪs tɒn, -tən/
a nonexistent chemical that, prior to the discovery of oxygen, was thought to be released during combustion.
Origin of phlogiston
1720-30; < New Latin: inflammability, noun use of Greek phlogistón, neuter of phlogistós inflammable, burnt up; see phlogistic Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for phlogiston
  • To this layman it is beginning to smell of phlogiston.
  • Once upon a time not too long ago everyone knew for a fact that there was phlogiston and an aether.
  • Uses the overthrow of the phlogiston theory to provide students with insight into the nature of science and changes in theory.
  • It took a hundred years to give up the idea of phlogiston.
British Dictionary definitions for phlogiston


/flɒˈdʒɪstɒn; -tən/
(chem) a hypothetical substance formerly thought to be present in all combustible materials and to be released during burning
Word Origin
C18: via New Latin from Greek, from phlogizein to set alight; related to phlegein to burn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for phlogiston

1730, hypothetical inflammatory principle, formerly believed to exist in all combustible matter, from Modern Latin (1702), from Greek phlogiston (1610s in this sense), neuter of phlogistos "burnt up, inflammable," from phlogizein "to set on fire, burn," from phlox (genitive phlogos) "flame, blaze" (see bleach (v.)). Theory propounded by Stahl (1702), denied by Lavoisier (1775), defended by Priestley but generally abandoned by 1800. Related: Phlogistic; phlogisticated.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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phlogiston in Science
A hypothetical colorless, odorless, weightless substance once believed to be the combustible part of all flammable substances and to be given off as flame during burning. In the 18th century, Antoine Lavoisier proved that phlogiston does not exist. See Note at Lavoisier.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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